Oh, How Quickly We Forget: Curriculum Theorizing in the “New” Post-Truth Era

James P. Burns


Donald Trump’s presidency has introduced a “new” post-truth era characterized by science denial, “alternative facts,” and a monumentalist longing for some lost American greatness. The association of post-truth solely with Trump’s election, however, elides analysis of the conditions of possibility of both phenomena. The focus on Trump’s bellicosity, overt racism, anti-immigrant sentiment, queer bashing, and misogyny, while important, distracts from the necessary self-critique of liberal elites on their roles in Trump’s ascendency. This paper imperfectly traces the antecedents of the current post-truth moment: sophisticated public relations and propaganda technologies developed in the United States during the early 20th century and the revolt of many liberal intellectuals against Progressive democratic discourses and institutions. The author then discusses his subjective reconstruction of some of his commonsense truths through two autobiographical reflections. Finally, he discusses the implications for curriculum theorizing in this post-truth era in the context of Foucault’s analysis of parrhēsia.


post-truth; curriculum theory; truth telling; propaganda; regimes of truth; biopolitics

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JCT: Journal of Curriculum Theorizing is an interdisciplinary journal of curriculum studies. It offers an academic forum for scholarly discussions of curriculum. Historically aligned with the "reconceptualist" movement in curriculum theorizing and oriented toward informing and affecting classroom practice, JCT presents compelling pieces within forms that challenge disciplinary, genre, and textual boundaries.

The journal is published by the Foundation for Curriculum Theory and is associated with the Bergamo Conference on Curriculum Theory and Classroom Practice, held in the autumn of each year. JCT is indexed in The Education Index.

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